I find walking outdoors great for clearing my head, or as my mother says “clearing the plaque” and releasing happy endorphins. I find it easier to walk first thing in the morning when there are no other distractions and like to walk along quiet streets when the world is still waking up. Admittedly I am more of a stroller than a power walker but now that I have a new puppy I plan to joyfully join the dog walkers club. When I am at home, I take a neighbourhood route so frequently I could recite the names of each house along the way, but when I travel it’s fun to go out and explore a new city. I can still recall morning strolls around the 6th arrondissement in Paris and by Piazza Venezia in Rome just as the streets were coming to life. There is something so magical about connecting with the natural world around you on foot.
When I walk, my mind is normally busy with thoughts and plans. Normally, when I walk my mind is just a stream of thoughts, interrupted by mindful moments of stopping to take in what’s around me. I find myself noticing the sky, the sunrise, feeling the rain on my face or inhaling the fresh air. Walking helps me connect with creativity and in turn with my own creative spirit. I get ideas and think of new ways to do things. Sometimes it’s an eureka moment or other times it’s a slow burning realization around a topic.
The Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge sums it up beautifully when he says ‘To walk.. can be about loving the earth, seeing yourself and letting your body travel at the same speed as your soul’. At times of particular stress, when my mind is going over and over a problem, it’s not surprising to hear myself say ‘I need to go for a really long walk’. Walking takes the energy in your head back into your body and down into your feet, and in doing so grounds you. When you feel grounded, it’s easier to gain clarity and move forward.
As with any new habit, the key to introducing walking into your life is to make it as easy as possible. Don’t overthink it. Have comfortable clothes at the ready and keep your runners near the door. Don’t ever be put off by the rain. In fact walking in the rain is one of the nicest experiences – who cares if you get wet! Walk at about the same time every day and have a regular route. That way you don’t have to overthink it, you can just go on autopilot.